30 Cruise Ship Interview Questions and Answer Tips

by | Last updated Nov 24, 2023 | Career Guide, Job Search | 6 comments

An essential step of the application process before getting hired is to successfully pass the cruise ship interview questions. But this industry is very competitive and many in the hospitality sector are vying for the same jobs.

A flashy resume may get you noticed, but it is during the job interview process that will reveal if what’s on your paper is true and accurate. To increase your chances of success, it is important to be prepared for this step.

I covered 30 interview questions and their possible answers in this article that will help you get ahead. To make them easier to understand, I categorized them into four, namely:

  • Personal Questions
  • Work-related Questions
  • Customer Service and Communication
  • Problem-solving and Decision-making

Here are 30 possible job interview questions and their answer tips when applying for a cruise company. I made this article because a friend of mine wants to work in this industry. Let’s wish him well.

Contents Overview

Personal Questions

During your cruise ship interview interview, the recruitment officer would want to know more about you as an individual, beyond your professional qualifications and experience.

His questions will aim to discover your personality, values, work ethic, and personal circumstances. Here, you must portray an image of yourself that aligns with the company’s culture.

1. Tell me about yourself.

Introduce yourself briefly followed by summarizing your professional background. Highlight your experiences, and qualifications, and wrap it up with your future aspirations. 

Make your response focused and avoid unnecessary details such as sharing your current personal problems.

2. Why do you want to work on a cruise ship as opposed to shoreside?

State what motivates you to work on cruise ships as opposed to shoreside. You can say that you want to help your family financially while traveling to many places. Aside from that, working with a great team, especially under challenging circumstances may be a thing for you, and the cruise industry is known for that.

There is really no fixed answer here and you can be creative with your answers. When I was applying for the NSA scholarships, one of the applicants said that he wants to become a seaman to taste different colors. The Norwegian interviewer was surprised and let the guy pass the interview.

I’m not sure if that will work here but the point is to be creative.

Crew of Queen Victoria Cruise Ship standing on the side door.
Image: Mike McBey | Wikimedia Commons.

3. What is your biggest strength and weakness?

Flexing your biggest strength is not a problem here so long as you don’t sound boasting too much. But revealing your weakness can be tricky as this will show your vulnerability. To answer this, your weakness should be one of your strengths in disguise.

For example, you are too meticulous when it comes to cleanliness. Because of this, you have a hard time letting go of a single task if you don’t feel satisfied. This also spills to the people that you manage because what’s okay for them may not be good enough for you. As a result, it creates friction and misunderstandings, especially among the new guys. 

You also must include a remedy for this like you’re managing it now by providing clear instructions and staying calm when tension arises.

4. What would you say are your top three qualities?

This is the moment to put your best foot forward. You know well what you do best and you have to be honest about this so that if ever the interviewer has follow-up questions, you wouldn’t be caught lying.

5. Why should we hire you?

If you made your research in question #2, you should be able to answer this. Here, align yourself with the job requirements they posted. Throw something like many people can be seasick but I know for myself that I’m less affected by it… that you enjoy working with diverse people… that you love fast-paced environments and challenging tasks.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question may bring out selfish ambitions but it’s important to strike a balance by aligning your goals with the company’s objectives.

An example is that, within five years, you want to be promoted to the next rank, and on your watch, you wouldn’t let any injuries or accidents happen to your guests or crew.

7. How long do you plan to work on a cruise ship?

Be realistic and honest about your plans and provide good reasons for them. It’s important to specify that it doesn’t matter to you how long you will work in the cruise industry but that you will be fully committed and enthusiastic, and will give 100% of your effort when working there.

8. How do you handle stress?

This one is too personal. How you handle your worst stress here will be similar onboard. But only answer positively. Instead of drinking and smoking, use productive things like listening to music, doing exercise, reading, etc.

A man and his two luggage lying in bed. He looks stressed and this may also be a topic for your cruise ship interview questions.

9. Are you willing to be away from your family and friends for long periods?

The obvious answer is yes but you have to back it up. Answers like the work keep you busy, you’ll be visiting different places you have never been to, you love them, you’re thinking of ways to improve your workplace, etc will sound good.

You can also provide instances when you were away from your loved ones and this was no problem for you.

10. What do you know about [this company]?

Like any shipping company, do solid research on a cruise agency’s background before applying for the position. You should know about their mission, vision, purpose, and core values. Express interest in how big the company is, the number of ships in its fleet, its offices around the world, and its resilience especially during the pandemic.

Work-related Questions

After knowing your personality, the recruitment officer will cross-examine your qualifications if you truly know your job. He will focus on uncovering your skills, experience, and ability to perform the tasks and responsibilities of the job.

11. Are you flexible on working 8 to 10 hours per day including weekends and holidays for your 8 or 10-month contract?

The obvious answer again is yes. Provide work experience examples where you worked 8 to 10 hours or more per day while the rest of the city is enjoying their holidays.

12. Describe a situation when you demonstrated flexibility at work.

This is also self-explanatory.

13. Describe a situation when you have had to work under pressure.

Go back on your experiences and recall a time when you worked under pressure.

14. Describe your working relationship with your previous or current colleagues.

What was it like working with them? Did you get along well? Were there problems that you helped them out? Are you still in contact with them?

15. How do you handle working with people from different cultural backgrounds?

Highlight your adaptability, open-mindedness, respect for diversity, and effective communication skills. State that as early as now, you are researching and watching informational videos about cultural differences so you will be better prepared when you’re on board.

16. How do you handle tight deadlines and multitasking?

Recall an experience where you had this instance and how you handle them. Include that you demonstrated your ability to prioritize, organize, and stay focused in high-pressure situations.

17. How do you handle feedback or constructive criticism?

For this question, it’s important to showcase your ability to receive feedback with a positive and open mindset, and your willingness to grow and improve. Share your experience where someone gave you negative feedback and how you handled it positively.

A crew in uniform talking with passengers in a cruise ship.
A crew in uniform interacting with the passengers. Image: Jason M. C., Han | Wikimedia Commons.

18. How do you handle challenging weather conditions or rough seas?

You may be tricked into sharing how seasick you are but there’s another way to answer this during your interview.

During rough weather, safety becomes more paramount encompassing both for yourself, co-workers, and passengers. Answer by highlighting this and remind passengers to keep calm and secure their loose items.

19. How would you handle a situation where a fellow crew member is not performing their duties adequately?

The crew may be facing personal problems at home and this is dragging his performance. Your first approach should be to ask him about the problem that’s affecting his work and listen intently. Offer to help but do all these things privately.

20. How would you handle an emergency on board?

During emergencies, it is important to stay calm, compose, and always obey your officer’s instructions. You have training on shore and drills on board so this means you can apply what you learned to handle any emergency. It’s also good to keep safety in mind whatever the situation.

Customer Service and Communication

Interaction with customers is very important. The way you handle their complaint leaves a mark on them and the company as a whole.

Here, the interviewer will gauge your communication skills and customer-centric approach. You must share your experiences to back you up.

21. How would you handle a rude customer or difficult guest?

Handling a rude customer or difficult guest on a cruise ship requires a combination of patience, professionalism, and effective communication skills. Highlight examples of your previous work where you successfully diffuse an irate customer or someone who had complaints.

22. How would you rate your customer service skills?

Provide an honest and confident response. Typically, your customer service skills must be in the range of 9 out of ten or excellent. Then state your strengths on why you excel on this part and provide examples of these achievements.

23. How do you ensure the cleanliness and hygiene of your work area?

This can be self-explanatory, especially post-covid times. The interviewer wants to know your attention to detail and commitment to maintaining a clean and sanitary environment.

He may also ask about the Three-bucket system so be prepared to give answers and show examples of when you used this during your previous job.

Showing the Three-Bucket System with each bucket for Wash, Rinse, and Sanitize.

24. How would you handle a situation where a guest violates ship rules?

Start by stating that the ship has specific policies for handling guests’ violation of ship rules stated in the code of conduct. You may not know the exact details of it but this shows you are aware of such a policy.

Generally, you have to keep calm, respectful, and professional. There could be a need to escalate the situation to the supervisor or security if the guest refuses to cooperate.

25. How would you go above and beyond to make guests’ vacation their best trip ever?

Exceptional customer service and creating memorable experiences define the best cruise vacation for the guests. Here, you must be ready to go above and beyond what is expected.

It starts by actively listening to their needs and understanding their preferences. From there, you can personalize suggestions specific to them. If you know something that could benefit them greatly, lead them there.

Lastly, ask for feedback and opinion so that next time, you will do better and make continuous improvements to your service.

Problem-solving and Decision-making

On board, it’s not required to memorize everything from the book and base your answers word for word whenever problems arise. Instead, you are encouraged to think critically and find the best solution.

Problem-solving and decision-making questions assess your ability to think critically, analyze situations, and make effective decisions.

26. How would you handle a situation if you see someone not following safety procedures?

Safety is paramount on board and everyone is expected to obey the rules. This question wants to reveal how committed you are to following safety procedures, your ability to communicate effectively, and your willingness to take appropriate action.

Don’t forget that there are specific policies regarding this and that you can always escalate the issue if the violator persists.

27. How would you handle a language barrier with guests or fellow crew members?

Though the working language on board is English, many of the crew may not be native speakers. Some guests may not be able to speak English so well.

Here, you must show your communication skills and that you are adaptable as well as culturally sensitive. You can also ask a translator to make communication easier or even use language translators on their phones.

28. How do you handle situations where there is a need for immediate medical assistance on board?

It’s important to think clearly and calmly in this situation. If possible, apply first aid to the casualty while waiting for the rescuers to arrive. You should be able to handle this since it’s a part of your Basic Training before joining your ship.

In short, the interviewer wants to know if you can stay calm under pressure, prioritize safety, and respond swiftly and appropriately.

The medical First Aid Kit (MFAK) may be included in your cruise ship interview questions.
Medical first aid kit (MFAK).

29. How would you handle a situation where a guest has lost their belongings on board?

This question aims to reveal your problem-solving skills and excellent customer service skills. If you have experience with a similar situation from a previous job, it’s important to narrate that to the interviewer.

In this case, CCTV footage should have everything recorded. You have to communicate with other departments about this issue and make sure that the guest’s belongings are retrieved.

30. How would you handle a conflict with a coworker or supervisor?

The golden rule on board is to be in harmony with the crew and passengers but if this can’t be avoided, both parties must have a dialogue about the issue. It must be handled professionally and constructively to understand the root cause of the problem.


Here are your 30 cruise ship interview questions and their answer tips. You don’t really have to memorize them word for word. As long as you understand the question, you can confidently answer them even with other variations. 

It’s important to stay calm and confident during the interview knowing that you know what you’re applying for and the job description it requires.

I hope you pass your interview process and land your dream job of working on a cruise ship.

May the winds be in your favor.

Gibi

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Hi Gibi, very helpful answers. Could you give an advice how to start working on a ship in hotel deparmen?

    Reply
    • Gibi

      Hello thanks for your feedback and I’m glad my article helps. To start working on a cruise ship, you have to polish and update your CV. Then try sending application letters to cruise ship manning agencies. You can also visit their office if nearby.

      If you manage to get to the interview section, ask them the required trainings and take note of them so you can get them whenever you are ready. Note that some agencies may have different training requirements but you should be able to spot the similarities of their advice. This is a list of training centers in Manila that you may want to check out.

      Let me know if you have more questions in mind.

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    thank you so much, this is a big help. fingers crossed for this journey! have a nice day ahead!

    Reply
    • Gibi

      You’re welcome. Let me know if there are specific topics you’d like me to cover. Good luck on your application and may your dreams be fulfilled.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Hi, Gibi can a fresher get a job in cruise line

      Reply
      • Gibi

        Hello sir. Anyone can get a job on cruise lines including freshers but because we have more supply of workforce, it will be very difficult to get in unless you have the right connections. Most people do is to get an experience first on shore- hotels, casinos, resorts, etc., and apply to cruise companies giving them a better chance of getting hired.

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